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20 Insane Music Pranks and Hoaxes

From Adele impersonating an impersonator to Sabbath scaring each other s–tless

Pranks; 20 best; artists

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Maybe it's because there's a certain amount of stunted adolescence that typically goes with the territory – or maybe because musicians need to find creative ways to distract themselves from the lengthy periods of sheer boredom that are endemic to a life spent primarily on the road or in the studio – but pop stars seem to have a special knack for messing with other people's minds.

In honor of April Fool's Day, here's a rundown of 20 memorable practical jokes, pranks, japes and/or hoaxes involving famous musicians over the past half-century. Some of them are light-hearted, some are bizarre and some are downright nasty, but they're all several steps up from your average whoopee cushion or joy buzzer gag.

Dylan; Motorcycle; Prank

Image no. 64-C3-20 Victor Maymudes, Bob Dylan, Bob Neuwirth Bearsville, NY, June 1964 Photo Copyright John Byrne Cooke All Rights Reserved

Bob Dylan’s Motorcycle Crash

While it's well-established that Bob Dylan did have a motorcycle accident in Woodstock, New York, on the morning of July 29th, 1966, the true nature of his injuries have been the subject of speculation for nearly 50 years. It was rumored at the time that he was near death, or permanently brain damaged; Dylan himself has variously claimed he suffered anywhere from one to several broken vertebrae, though he apparently sought out a local doctor for treatment instead of going to a nearby hospital. Whatever actually happened, it's clear that the accident offered Dylan a convenient excuse to get off the frantic treadmill of fame and retreat, at least for a few years, into a more bucolic existence. Still, he continues to change the story — and his assertion to Rolling Stone in 2012 that he'd been "transfigured" by the accident (and that it was somehow linked to a fatal 1964 motorcycle crash suffered by a Hell's Angel named Bobby Zimmerman) could well be another classic Dylan put-on.

Sharon Osbourne; Iron Maiden; Prank; Ozzfest; 2005

Karl Walter/Getty, Michael Caulfield Archive/Getty

Sharon Osbourne Sabotages Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden's final performance of OzzFest 2005 was a rough one: The British metal legends were pelted by eggs, ice and creamed corn, repeatedly interrupted by stage invaders and suffered multiple P.A. outages as they valiantly attempted to play an hour-long set for a sell-out crowd at the Hyundai Pavilion in San Bernardino, California. Suspicions that Ozzy's crew were involved in the pranks were confirmed afterward when Sharon Osbourne took the stage to call Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson a "prick," and to claim that he'd been disrespecting Ozzy and Ozzfest in the press. Unfortunately for Sharon, the incident generated far more bad press for her than Maiden, as most eyewitnesses were impressed by the band's fiery performance in the face of egg-splattering adversity.

Tool; New Album; Prank; April fools; 2015

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JAN 30: Maynard Keenan of Tool performs on stage at the Melbourne Big Day out at Flemington racetrack on Sunday 30th January 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns)

Martin Philbey/Getty

Tool’s Leaky New Album

Tool haven't released a new album since 2006's 10,000 Days, which means their fans are desperate for any new music at all from the progressive metal outfit — and are thus especially susceptible to pranks like the one the band played last April Fool's Day, when they announced via Facebook that someone had not only posted their unfinished music on the Internet without their consent, but was also claiming it as their own work. The post contained two YouTube links — one labeled "Tool Leak" and one labeled "The Other" — and asked fans to compare the "practically identical" works. Of course, both of them turned out to be "El Sonidito (El Ruidito)," a 2009 international hit by Mexico's Hechizeros Band. The fans who fell for it weren't pleased, but they had only themselves to blame for failing to notice the post's #marchthirtysecond hash tag.

Grunge; NYtimes

The Great Grunge Hoax

Grunge was huge in 1992 — and in the wake the surprising success of Nirvana's Nevermind, the mainstream media descended upon Seattle, hoping to gain insight into this new "pop phenomenon." The New York Times was no exception; the paper ran a piece that November called "Grunge: A Success Story," which also included a helpful lexicon of cutting-edge grunge slang terms like "Lamestain" (or uncool person), "Harsh Realm" (bummer) and "Swingin' on the Flippity-Flop" (hanging out). Unfortunately for the paper, the lexicon turned out to be a complete hoax; it was later revealed that a Sub Pop Records receptionist — who, like many denizens of the Seattle music scene, had become increasingly annoyed by all the outside attention being focused on their city — made up the "slang" on the spot while being interviewed by a Times reporter. Harsh realm, dude!

Paul McCartney; Deadl Hoax; Prank

Paul Is Dead

The grandaddy of all rock conspiracy theories, the persistent rumor that Paul McCartney actually died in a 1966 auto accident (and that his death was subsequently covered up by his fellow Beatles) has had fans of the Fab Four combing their records for macabre clues for nearly half a century. However, the newspaper article that really fanned the rumor's flames — a front-page feature in the October 14th, 1969 issue of the Michigan Daily that was quickly picked up by newspapers around the country, as well as Time and Life magazines — was actually a prank by a University of Michigan student named Fred LaBour. LaBour, who had originally been assigned to review the band’s new Abbey Road album for the paper, wrote the piece as a playful send-up of the credulous call-in conversations regarding McCartney’s "death" that he'd recently heard on a Detroit radio station. Of the more than two-dozen "clues" and "facts" presented in LaBour’s article, most were fabricated on the spot by the writer, but they continue to live on to this day — much like McCartney himself.